Page last updated at 15:13 GMT, Thursday, 24 July 2008 16:13 UK

'A toddler trapped in a teen's body'

Rowan Bridge
Reporter, 5 Live

Craig Buxton
Craig was diagnosed with ADHD a decade ago

Looking after a child with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder can place a huge strain on families.

That is something Sharon Hudson knows only too well.

She recently replaced the door to her front room in Stoke-on-Trent because the old one had become the latest victim of her son Craig's ADHD.

In the past he has also smashed up his bedroom, tried to push his stepfather Alan down the stairs, set fire to things, harmed himself, destroyed his mother's personal items and tried to strangle the family cat.

Craig's behaviour has not only taken a physical toll, it has taken a mental one too.

"It's hell. It's horrible," Sharon says.

"I mean, he's my child and it's horrible to say it, but you know some days I hate being around him.

"His voice goes through me, his behaviour is horrendous.

"He smashes things, he's violent, his manner's vile.

"He'll say hurtful things and know he's hurt you and upset you and he'll laugh at you. It's horrendous," she says.

Outbursts

Craig was diagnosed with ADHD when he was five, and he shows all the classic signs of the condition.

He cannot concentrate for any length of time, and is prone to outbursts.

Now, at the age of 15, his behaviour is like that of a toddler trapped in a teenager's body.

To try to help control the condition, Craig has been prescribed Ritalin, and its slow release version, Concerta.

He has been on the drugs since he was diagnosed, and Sharon admits that she feels uncomfortable about giving them to him.

While it may help control his outbursts, it also dampens down all aspects of his personality. Sharon has now taken prescribing into her own hands.

I don't like him having no personality, I don't like everything he does throughout the day being masked by the Ritalin
Sharon Hudson

Each day she is with Craig she makes a judgement about the minimum level of drugs she can get away with.

If she thinks they can both cope without him taking Concerta she won't give it to him.

"I don't like him having no personality, I don't like everything he does throughout the day being masked by the Ritalin.

"In some ways I feel like I have failed him because I have to give him these drugs. I do give them to him because it makes his life a little bit more bearable."

Craig himself says the drugs make him feel "monged out", like he can't be bothered to do anything.

Stronger

The older Craig gets, the harder he becomes to control.

He's already taller than his parents, and his mother says that when he is in a rage he has the power of 10 men.

The concern for Sharon and her husband Alan is what the future holds for Craig.

In a few years he'll be able to go out and drink legally and they worry what implications that could have for his condition.

In November last year Alan shot a video diary for Panorama showing what life is like with Craig. The words that he spoke to the camera then ring true now.

"One day Craig's going to get himself in a lot of trouble and then we won't be able to help him.

"I just hope that day doesn't come but I can see it's well on its way. As he's getting older he's getting much stronger and who knows what he's going to do."

The way Ritalin works is not fully understood, but it seems to affect the part of the brain which controls attention and the organisation of behaviour by modifying levels of key chemicals such as dopamine.

A Department of Health spokesperson said it was down to doctors to decide the best course of treatment for a patient.

However, the spokeperson added: "The Department has stated that drug therapy should only be part of a comprehensive treatment programme that includes advice and support to parents and teachers."

Dr Jon Goldin, an ADHD expert at Great Ormond Street Hospital, agreed that treatment should be a combination of drugs - starting at low doses - with behavioural and psycho-social interventions, such as giving praise for good behaviour.

Dr Goldin said there was some disagreement within the medical profession about the use of Ritalin, but most doctors accepted that the drug was a useful tool.


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